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Article

Procris  

Emily Kearns

Procris, an Attic heroine (see attic cults and myths; hero-cult), best known for her stormy marital relationship with *Cephalus. When the disguised Cephalus discovered her willingness to be unfaithful, she fled in shame to *Crete, where she cured *Minos of his childlessness (he ejaculated snakes and scorpions) and, being a great huntress, was presented by him with a hound which never missed its mark, which in turn she gave to Cephalus. Having then tricked her husband with his own method, she remained suspicious of him, and was accidentally killed by him while spying on him as he was hunting. Her father *Erechtheus then buried her and prosecuted Cephalus.

Article

Emily Kearns

Procrustes, familiar epithet of one of *Theseus' adversaries on his journey from *Troezen to Athens, also known as Damastes, Polypemon, and perhaps Procoptas. He was a brigand who lived between *Eleusis and Athens. Having overcome his victims he would force them to lie down on a bed, or on one of two beds; if they were too short, he would hammer them out or rack them with weights to fit the longer bed, if too tall he would cut them to fit the shorter. Theseus disposed of him in the same way.

Article

Proetus  

Herbert Jennings Rose and J. N. Bremmer

Proetus, the first king of Tiryns, who quarrelled with his brother *Acrisius in their mother's womb. See also bellerophon; letters, greek. The only other important myth, which is fragmented into various local traditions, concerns his daughters, the Proetides. These insulted the statue of *Hera (*Acusilaus, FGrH 2 F 28), or refused the rites of *Dionysus (Hes. fr. 131). They were driven mad by the offended deity and wandered about the country ‘with all sorts of indecent behaviour’. In particular, they took themselves for cows and roamed the *Peloponnesus mooing. *Melampus (1), being asked to heal them, demanded a share of the kingdom; this was refused, and they went madder still, now being joined by all the other women who had killed their own children. Finally, Proetus agreed to Melampus, although his terms had been raised. The women were then caught by Melampus and a band of youths at Sicyon and cured, except one, Iphinoe, who had died.

Article

Ken Dowden

Prometheus, divine figure associated with the origin of *fire and with *Hephaestus, developed by *Hesiod into a figure of greater weight. The name, of unknown significance, was given the sense ‘Forethought’ by Hesiod, who added a contrasting figure Epimetheus (‘Thinking after the event’). His father is *Iapetus.Local Myth and Cult: (1) At Athens Prometheus and Hephaestus are worshipped by potters (because of the firing of clay?) and in the *Academy. A torch-race in honour of Prometheus probably formed part of a ritual renewal of fire (Deubner, Attische Feste, 211–12, cf. Nilsson, Feste, 173–4). (2) In *Thebes (1) (Paus. 9. 25. 6) one of the *Cabiri is named Prometheus and his son is Aetnaeus (‘of Mt. Etna’, where Hephaestus and the *Cyclopes worked as smiths). (3) *Deucalion is the son of Prometheus (Hes. fr. 2, Acusilaus FGrH 2 F 34, Pind. Ol.

Article

Robert Parker

Prophētēs (προφήτης), the title of the mortal who speaks in the name of a god or interprets his will. It is properly used only of seers and functionaries attached to an established oracular shrine; the unattached seer is called mantis or chresmologos. And it is more often used of the officials who presided over oracular shrines than of the actual receivers of mantic inspiration: *Pindar can distinguish the two functions, inviting the Muse (see muses) to ‘prophecy, and I will be your mouthpiece’ (prophētēs) (μαντεύεο Μοῖσα, προφατεύσω δ᾽ ἐγώ, fr. 150 Sn.). At Delphi (see delphic oracle) and *Didyma the immediate reception of the divine revelation was a woman, while the ‘prophets’ were males who oversaw the oracular session: at Didyma, an annually elected magistrate, at Delphi (where the title was not official) two priests who served for life. The distinction is not absolute, however, as the term προφῆτις was also sometimes applied to the inspired woman.

Article

Simon Geoffrey Pembroke

Sacred prostitution is a strictly modern, not ancient, term and misleading in that it transfers to the institution, or rather a variety of institutions, an adjective which in ancient sources denotes only the status of the personnel involved (sometimes also their earnings, which likewise became sacred on dedication). In the cult of *Aphrodite at *Corinth, Strabo (8. 6. 20, C378; cf. 12. 3. 36, C559), admittedly writing long after the city's destruction in 146 bce, gives a total of over 1,000 *hetairai dedicated by both men and women. Much earlier *Pindar (fr. 122; Chamaeleon fr. 31 Wehrli), in a scolion (see scolia) which explicitly anticipates a degree of moral opprobrium and seeks to forestall this with a coy invocation to ‘necessity’ (ἀνάγκη), celebrates the dedication of up to 100 by the contemporary Xenophon of Corinth (the figure given is strictly a total of limbs rather than of persons). The modern view that their professional activities were ritually significant is not borne out by the down-to-earth, matter-of-fact ancient term ‘earning from the body’ (ἐργάζεσθαι ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος), elsewhere and no less casually also used of wet-nursing (see childbirth).

Article

Andrew Brown

Protesilaus, leader of a Thessalian contingent at *Troy (see thessaly). According to Iliad 2. 698–702 he was the first of the Greeks to disembark and was immediately killed, ‘and his wife was left tearing her cheeks and his house half-built’. This is later elaborated, mainly (to our knowledge) in Latin authors (Catullus 68. 73–130; Ovid, Her. 13, Laodamia to Protesilaus; Hyginus 103–4). Here Protesilaus had offended the gods by failing to sacrifice before he began his house. An oracle prophesied that the first man ashore at Troy would die and he deliberately sacrificed himself. His wife Laodamia grieved so for his loss that the gods allowed her to see him for three hours, after which she killed herself; or she spent so much time with an image of him that her father burnt it and she flung herself on the fire.There was a shrine and tomb of Protesilaus at Elaeus in the Thracian *Chersonesus; Pausanias (1.

Article

Proteus  

Andrew Brown

Proteus, a minor sea-god or ‘Old Man of the Sea’, herdsman of seals. At *Homer, Odyssey 4. 349–570 *Menelaus (1) encounters him on the island of Pharos off the coast of Egypt. The god takes on various shapes in an effort to escape (his shape-changing became proverbial), but Menelaus holds him fast and forces him to answer questions. This episode must have been the subject of *Aeschylus' Proteus, the satyr-play of the Oresteia. Later writers, including *Virgil, who imitates the Homeric account at Georgics 4. 387–529, associate the god with *Chalcidice.

At *Herodotus (1) 2. 112–20, however (cf. Eur.Hel. 4), Proteus is not a god but a virtuous Egyptian king, who keeps *Helen with him for the duration of the Trojan War.

Article

Ptoion  

John Buckler

Ptoion, sanctuary of *Apollo located in the territory of *Acraephnium in *Boeotia. The ruins of the oracle on Mt. Ptoon consist of the remains of a temple, a grotto and spring, and various sacred buildings. Excavations have found rich dedications of Archaic date, especially statuary. The cult dates at least from the 8th cent. bce, and was marked by a male prophet who gave responses in a state of *ecstasy. Apollo was associated with a female goddess or heroine. *Pindar (fr. 51b; Paian 7. f.) and *Herodotus (1) (8. 135) constitute the earliest literary evidence for the origin of the cult. The sanctuary, but not the oracle, flourished until the third century ce.

Article

Ptolemaeus of Mende, a priest, wrote on the Egyptian kings in three books. He wrote before Apion (first half of the 1st cent. bce), who refers to him. He attributes the Hebrew Exodus under Moses to the time of king Amosis (founder of the 18th dynasty).

Article

Robert Parker

The concept of ‘purification’, like that of *pollution, was applied in very diverse ways in Greek *ritual. Many purifications were performed not in response to specific pollutions, but as preparation for particular events or actions or on a regular calendar basis. The Athenian assembly (see ekklēsia), for instance, was purified at the start of meetings (by carrying the body of a sacrificed piglet around it), and temples could be treated similarly; individuals purified themselves by washing before approaching the gods. Most drastically, some whole cities of ancient Ionia, not excluding Athens, were purified annually by the expulsion of human scapegoats at the festival *Thargelia.There were many different techniques of purification: by washing or sprinkling, by fumigation (with sulphur above all), by ‘rubbing off’ with mud or bran; all admitted various degrees of symbolic elaboration (the use of sea-water, or water from a special spring, or even from seven springs, for instance). *Sacrifice too, or modified forms of it, often functioned as a purification: the corpse might be carried around the place to be purified (see above), while the blood supposedly sticking to a killer was ‘washed off with blood’ by pouring that of the animal victim over his hands.

Article

Robert Parker

Pyanopsia, an Attic festival of *Apollo, celebrated at Athens on the 7th of the month Pyanopsion (i.e. roughly late October). It was probably once a widespread Ionian festival, to judge from the diffusion of the month name Pyanopsion. The attested activities are (1) carrying and dedication of the eiresiōnē (a branch wound with wool and hung with fruit)(2) preparation—and no doubt dedication and consumption—of a dish of boiled beans and other vegetables and cereals, from which the festival derives its name, ‘Bean-boiling’.

Article

Alan H. Griffiths

Pygmalion, name (perhaps *Phoenician) of two legendary east Mediterranean kings:

(1) king of *Cyprus, father-in-law (Apollod. 3. 14. 3) or grandfather (Ovid) of Cinyras, with whom he shared a devotion to the cult of *Aphrodite-Astarte. It was originally an ivory cult-statue of the goddess for which he conceived a fetishistic passion (Philostephanus in Clem. Al.Protr. 4. 57. 1); but in Ovid's version (Met. 10. 243 ff.) the king himself carves the image of his ideal woman, who is then brought to life by Aphrodite, becomes his wife, and bears a daughter, eponym of the town of *Paphos.

(2) king of *Tyre and brother of Elissa (*Dido), whose husband Sychaeus (or Acherbas, Justin Epitome 18. 4. 5) he killed in the hope of seizing his fortune (Verg. Aen. 1. 343 ff.).

Article

pygmies  

Karim Arafat

Pygmies, dwarves who live in *Africa, *India, *Scythia, or *Thrace. They are usually discussed in Greek mythology in connection with their fight against the cranes. *Homer (Il. 3. 3–6) says that the cranes flee before the winter to the (Southern) stream of Oceanus and bring death to the Pygmies. *Hecataeus (1), who located the pygmies in southern Egypt, *Ctesias, and the writers on India (e.g. *Megasthenes) considerably elaborated the story. Pygmies disguise themselves as rams, or ride on rams and goats. They battle with the cranes to protect their fields (perhaps a reflection of the farmer's life), and conduct operations to destroy the cranes' eggs and young. Other mythographers invented explanations for the struggle, tracing the enmity to a beautiful pygmy girl transformed into a crane (Boeus in Ath. 9. 393e–f). Philostratus (Imag. 2.22; see philostrati) tells of an unsuccessful pygmy attack on *Heracles after he killed *Antaeus.

Article

Emily Kearns

Pylaemenes, a minor Iliadic character (see homer), king of the Paphlagonian Enetoi (see paphlagonia), fighting on the Trojan side (Il. 2. 851–5). He is chiefly notorious for appearing alive in 13. 643–59, after he has been killed in 5. 576–9, a famous inconsistency in ancient criticism (Schol. A Hom.

Article

Nicholas J. Richardson

Originally the Pythian festival at *Delphi took place every eight years, and there was a single contest, the singing of a hymn to *Apollo accompanied by the cithara. After the First *Sacred War the festival was reorganized under the control of the *amphictiony, and further musical and athletic contests (see agōnes) were added. These games were next in importance to the *Olympian Games, and were held quadrennially in late August of the third year in each *Olympiad. The Pythiads were reckoned from 582 bce. The musical contests consisted in singing to the cithara, cithara-playing, and flute-playing, and the athletic contests resembled those at Olympia. The horse races were always held below Delphi in the plain of *Crisa. The stadium lies above the sanctuary under Mount *Parnassus, and the *gymnasium and *palaestra are near the temple of *Athena Pronaia.

Article

relics  

A. Schachter

Relics, the remains (complete or partial) or property of a dead person (real or fictional) which were imbued with the power to benefit their possessor. Inevitably, the veneration of relics in ancient Greece occurs within the context of *hero-cult.There are numerous examples of relics, which fall into three main categories: first, those put into a certain place on purpose and subsequently worshipped there; second, those brought from one place to another for worship at the latter; third, those found by chance, given an identity, and venerated.Examples of the first group are (a) oikists' tombs (Graham, 29–30),(b) the tombs of fallen warriors (e.g. the fallen at Plataea; see plataea, battle of (Plut. Arist. 21. 3–6 (332a–c)); Glaucus at *Thasos (Grandjean, 469–70 and 483; Pouilloux, 31–42)); in the second group belong(a) the bones of *Orestes brought to Sparta from *Tegea (Hdt. 1. 67–8),(b) those of *Melanippus to Sicyon from Thebes (Hdt.

Article

Emily Kearns

Despite the diversity of the Greek world, which is fully reflected in its approach to things divine, the cult practices and pantheons current among different communities have enough in common to be seen as essentially one system, and were generally understood as such by the Greeks. This is not to say that the Greeks were familiar with the concept of ‘a religion’, a set of beliefs and practices espoused by its adherents as a matter of conscious choice, more or less to the exclusion of others; such a framework was not applied to Greek religion before late antiquity, and then under pressure from Christianity. Boundaries between Greek and non-Greek religion were far less sharp than is generally the case in comparable modern situations, but they were perceived to exist. The tone is set by *Herodotus(1) (8. 144. 2), who characterizes ‘Greekness’ (τὸ Ἑλληνικόν) as having common temples and rituals (as well as common descent, language, and customs). Thus, despite his willingness to identify individual Persian or Egyptian deities with Greek ones (a practice followed by most Greek ethnographers), and indeed despite his attribution of most of the system of divine nomenclature to the Egyptians (2. 50–2), he still sees a body of religious thought and practice which is distinctively Greek. Many modern scholars go further and see a certain overall coherence in this body which enables us to speak of a ‘system’ despite the lack of formal dogma or canonical ritual.

Article

The semantics of Greek and Latin in this regard are very different from those of modern European languages. In Greek, the most important word denoting the sacred was ἱερός, denoting basically something which is consecrated to a god, although its use in Homer may reflect an original meaning ‘strong’. A related sense is ‘connected with cult’; thus ἱερά are religious rites, or materials, especially victims, for them. Contrasting with ἱερός, both ὅσιος and εὐσεβής, with their corresponding abstract nouns, cover some of the meaning of ‘religion’, ‘religious’. Ὅσιος seems to mean primitively ‘usage’, ‘custom’, hence ‘good, commendable, pious usage’ or the feelings which go with it. It tends to specialize into meaning that which is proper and lawful with regard to holy things, or to traditional morality; it is, for instance, ἀνόσιον to commit murder. Its sense of ‘lawful’ can, however, further develop into ‘that which is permitted, as not sacred or taboo’, and thus may contrast with ἱερός, coming to mean almost ‘profane, secular.

Article

B. C. Dietrich and Alan A. D. Peatfield

Given the 2000 years of the Cretan bronze age, the religion of Minoan civilization underwent several major transformations. What is assumed to be its canonical form is mostly a construct of Second Palace Period in the middle-to-late bronze age. From the latter half of the 2nd millennium bce (late bronze age) Mycenaeans appear to have been politically dominant in Crete and Greece, and clearly took over some Minoan cult traditions, although as a whole their religious system seems to show as many differences as similarities. Both civilizations have affinities with the centralized urban societies of the near east, in which religion supported the dominant political hierarchy.

The earliest evidence of communal religious activity in Crete derives from Early Minoan tombs (3rd millennium bce), the round Mesara tholoi, rectangular ‘house’ tombs of east Crete, and from caves used for habitation and burial since neolithic times. A probable shrine at the EM II settlement of Myrtos consisted of a room with a bench; there was found a female vessel-figurine, portrayed holding a jug. The shrine may have been associated with an open area for cult, foreshadowing the courtyards of later Minoan palaces with adjacent shrines. Similar female vessel figurines (along with bull vessel figures) are found in the open areas beside early Minoan tombs, suggesting shared cult beliefs and practices between tombs and settlements. This symbolic portrayal of the feminine prefigures the goddess representations of later palace periods. But the dominance of religious material at tombs suggests a strong ancestor cult component in early Minoan religion.